Country music is a widely beloved style of music. Popular acts like Sugarland and Emerson Drive, as well as lesser-known groups, comprise this vast genre.
Country music is an American genre that originated in the western states of the US. There are various styles of country music, such as old-time, western swing and rockabilly.
The Statler Brothers
At a time when country music was experiencing an upswing, The Statler Brothers made quite an impact. Their distinctive sound and lyrics set them apart from other acts in the genre. Plus, as one of television’s most popular bands with a passionate fan base, they quickly gained notoriety.
The Statler Brothers began as a gospel quartet but soon added elements of country music into their repertoire. Their harmonies were inspired by classic Southern gospel quartets, yet their contemporary country songs combined the barbershop-ready harmony and melodies of these older groups with more modern country music styles such as fiddle and banjo that had become increasingly popular on radio stations in the 1960s.
Their songs drew inspiration from classic rock but were also highly original. Their barbershop-esque vocals were transformed into songs about small town life, high school proms and western movies; nostalgic lyrics lamenting a simpler time in America that has since passed.
They were a major hit throughout the 1960s and ’70s, with their music becoming an essential staple on country radio. They won numerous awards including four Grammys, toured across America, hosted a TV show, and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Their debut single was “Flowers On The Wall,” which peaked at number one on both pop and country charts. It quickly became one of their best-known songs and earned them their first Grammy nomination in 1965.
Lew DeWitt wrote the song, which sounds almost like 1960s Americana with bluegrass banjo and barbershop quartet-ready harmonies, plus DeWitt’s vivid poetry. The weighty tune has an eerie atmosphere enhanced by honeyed harmonies and plucked banjo.
The Statlers were unique in that they could craft country songs that sounded like they’d been performed for centuries. This ballad centers around a couple on the brink of divorce, painting them with an uplifting lyric that’s both wistful and malevolent, along with a melody that’s sweet without being saccharine.
The Judds, comprised of Wynonna Judd and her mother Naomi Judd, are one of country music’s most successful duos. Combining acoustic instrumentation, powerful vocal harmonies, as well as their mother-daughter bond, they achieved numerous hits during the 1980s and early 1990s.
They signed to RCA Nashville in 1983 and released six studio albums between then and 1991, earning five Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal as well as nine Country Music Association awards. Their greatest hits album, Greatest Hits, won another Grammy Award in 1988, becoming an influential influence on many artists that followed them.
Their lyrics, which focused on traditional values and an understanding of everyday struggles, resonated with their fans. By the late 1980s, they had become one of the leading groups within the New Traditionalists movement–which brought back traditional hard country sounds while adopting traditional song lyrics–which resonated with millions around the world.
The Judds’ musical style, which featured acoustic guitar-driven arrangements and straightforward harmonies, earned them a reputation as unpretentious, honest, and authentic country musicians. Furthermore, the Judds upheld traditional values and prioritized family-focused lifestyles alongside their music.
For The Judds, success wasn’t just about making money; it was also about their relationship with each other and their fans. They openly spoke about their struggles and triumphs in interviews, often sharing stories that inspired others.
After their breakthrough in 1982, when record producer Brent Maher listened to their demo tape, the duo quickly signed with RCA Nashville and released “Had a Dream (For the Heart”)” in 1983 that reached number one on the country charts. Soon after, two number-one hits followed: “Mama He’s Crazy” and “Why Not Me.”
By the end of their careers, they had become one of the most renowned country music acts in existence; despite a lengthy battle with illness (including hepatitis C), they never stopped creating music together. Their albums and singles sold more than one million copies each.
Randy Owen (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Teddy Gentry (bass guitar and background vocals), and Jeff Cook (fiddle, keyboards) formed Alabama in Fort Payne, Alabama by three cousins: Randy Owen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, background vocals), and Teddy Gentry (keyboards). These three began playing together while still in high school; eventually changing its name to Alabama in 1977.
In 1980, RCA Records signed Alabama and they quickly rose to become one of country music’s most successful groups. Throughout their time on the label, Alabama scored 21 number one singles, won numerous awards and achieved seven multi-platinum albums.
Their success can also be attributed to their pioneering use of lighting and sound systems, which were then novel in country music. This innovation helped them make a name for themselves and is still employed by many top country acts today, such as Rascal Flatts and Eli Young Band.
Another aspect of the state’s culture that is evident in its bands is its strong tradition of gospel music. This genre has a long-standing presence here, with both white and black populations sharing common traits when it comes to what makes for successful gospel groups.
The music of the state has been heavily influenced by its Celtic roots, with piping and harpists playing an integral role in its vibrant music scene. Notable bands from the area include Henri’s Notions, After Class and Birmingham-based harpist Cynthia Douglass.
They have toured the globe and sold millions of albums, earning them numerous accolades and awards. Furthermore, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, with their songs touching hearts around the globe.
Although the band’s success in their earlier days has faded somewhat, they remain a major force in country music. With an enthusiastic fan base and ongoing tour dates as well as recording new material, they continue to tour and frequently perform in their hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama.
In 2013, Alabama returned to touring for the first time in several years and released their first album of new material since 2001, Southern Drawl. The band members remain involved in their community, supporting local charities and advocating for Alabama and the South as champions.
Keith Urban is a renowned country music artist whose albums have had an immense impact on the genre. A gifted singer-songwriter and guitarist, Urban has released several highly praised albums while winning numerous awards along the way. Additionally, he has toured extensively both within America and beyond.
His career began in Australia, where he won several local talent shows and formed a band. Eventually he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he quickly rose to become one of country music’s most beloved artists.
In 1999, he signed with Capitol Records and released his debut album entitled “But for the Grace of God.” This spawned his first number one hit single “But for the Grace of God,” which went on to become his first Billboard country chart success. Two years later in 2002 he released Golden Road which was certified platinum and featured hit songs “Somebody Like You” and “Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me.”
Urban is renowned for his guitar playing abilities, which are showcased onstage. He can masterfully execute both guitar riffs and singing verses simultaneously, captivating audiences from around the globe with an unforgettable showmanship.
He has performed on a range of instruments, such as bass and drums. Additionally, he plays piano and the ganjo–a six-string banjo–in concert.
Urban is a major country music artist, but his sound has been heavily influenced by other genres. He’s collaborated with artists such as rock band INXS and jazz pianist Paul Jefferson.
The musician and songwriter has released multiple solo albums as well as collaborative projects. He has earned multiple awards for his ability to craft music that inspires people from all backgrounds.
Keith Urban has many admirers and fans, yet he remains incredibly humble. He feels incredibly grateful for all of the love he’s been shown and wants to do whatever it takes to make sure his supporters feel important.
Urban has had to overcome many challenges throughout his life, from drug and alcohol abuse to an emotional breakdown that caused him to enter treatment for mental health issues. Despite his successes, Urban still had to battle personal demons.